I'd be genuinely interested to know what your answer was (comment below please), as it's something that's been on the agenda here at Blueleaf Towers recently.
The rise of this little menu icon (often referred to as the burger) has been rapid to say the least and the debate here has centred around levels of recognition and whether those levels vary across different devices. Are you more likely to know what it does on a mobile site for example, than on a desktop site?
Icons have always been a useful way of signposting people around your website, increasingly so on smaller devices where space is at a premium for word-driven navigation. Designers have had to find simple ways of neatly hiding a lot of navigation items away, but not so hidden that they can't be accessed quickly. Over the last couple of years, we've seen a fair few menu icons designed – the burger is not alone – so the question is, which icon most obviously means "menu" to you?
Here are a few alternatives:
Current thinking is that the burger is winning the race to become the default icon for menus and we'd love to see it become as standard as the triangle is that means "play". After all, great UX is about helping visitors get around your site as easily and fluidly as possible. The less ambiguous the icons are, the easier this becomes.
We've been using the burger on mobile and tablet sites for quite a while now and are seeing that it's easily recognised by most users. There's still debate over the extent to which this is true for desktop sites – would you still expect to see navigation laid out full width across the top of a desktop site? Again, answers and thoughts below would be really interesting to see.
In our opinion, the burger icon is now on an unstoppable path towards becoming the generic menu icon and as designers we can't wait until it's triumphed as it will allow us to be more flexible with navigation, hiding it away where relevant, freeing up space for other stuff and simplifying designs.
All this talk of burgers is making me hungry...